At no point does this post become unpleasantly detailed.
Four months ago, I started Nuvaring after more than five years of abstinence. After researching other forms of birth control, this one was the obvious choice for me. Not only would I not have to worry about taking a pill every day, but I’d been on it five years earlier, with no side effects. The only catch was that, with two months until my insurance kicked in, I would have to pay out-of-pocket for this name brand prescription, because drug patents last for 20 years before generics can be produced.* Not wanting to risk the potential consequences of switching my hormonal birth control in such a short period, I bit the bullet and paid approximately $140 for Nuvaring, two months in a row.
Over the next four months, I experienced all of the perks of Nuvaring. I didn’t have to remember to take a pill every day. I had less extreme periods in every way. Neither Jake, nor I, ever felt the ring and it never slipped out. Most importantly, I never got pregnant. It seemed like the dream birth control. Why wasn’t everyone on this?!?
I told you all about my kidney infection in March, when I discussed the perils of life without health insurance. What started as a bladder infection that I couldn’t afford to treat, eventually led to my waking up alone on the bedroom floor with a fever too high to reach for my phone and call for help. Eventually, the antibiotics took hold, and I got better. Finally, in April, I was officially insured… just in time for my new gynecologist to tell me I had another infection and treat me with yet more antibiotics, despite my lack of symptoms. I thought it was strange, that I’d get two UTI’s in one month. I, of course, looked up preventative measures and took action. So, it was much to my dismay when I recognized the same bladder infection symptoms I’d had two months prior, in the middle of May. This time, I was able to see a doctor for just $20, which seemed worth it to avoid missing more work. Jake just bought the Trojan multipack, because each time I was on antibiotics, we couldn’t count on hormonal birth control. It was becoming frustrating that I was even on birth control, if we were using condoms, anyway. I mean, I knew different forms of birth control came with their side effects, so why was I even taking the risk? Hmmm. On that thought…
Where were these problems coming from, when I’d never had any similar issues, in my life? Could Nuvaring be the culprit? None of my doctors had suggested there could be any connection between the two. So, I took to the Internet and read all about Nuvaring side effects, only to find nothing relevant listed, even in the rarer cases. Over the course of the next week, I drank my water and waited for the antibiotics to take hold… and then called the doctor’s office to ask if I should’ve seen results, one week later. They verified that I did have an infection, but seeemed surprised that the antibiotics I’d been given hadn’t helped. I wasn’t to worry, though, because the antibiotics they prescribed this time would surely do the trick… until they didn’t and I was told that, at this point, a UTI couldn’t be the problem.
I took to the Internet again. If it wasn’t a UTI, why was I experiencing so much pain? For a moment, I feared bladder cancer, only to calm myself when I discovered this is a diagnosis usually reserved for the elderly. Upon further research, I found that UTI symptoms can be attributed to chlamydia and gonorrhea, both. No part of me suspected Jake of cheating, but I knew he’d been with women before me and that neither of these STI’s necessarily caused any symptoms in men. So, I made an appointment to get tested. Any frustration I had for Jake, I’d reserve for after I found out I had anything and even then, it would just be for the fact that he hadn’t made sure he was clean. I’ll be honest. At this point, I hoped I had chlamydia. I’d have caught it in time to avoid any long term damage and the treatment was just another antibiotic. Sure, we’d have to use condoms again, but we’d mostly been doing that anyway.
On the Tuesday after Memorial Day, I got the call. I was clean of all STI’s and UTI’s… and I was devastated by this news. Over the next week, I became convinced that I’d never feel better, again. This was just how I’d live my life. Further research had told me that the remaining likely diagnosis was interstitial cystitis, a chronic disorder that may or may not respond to different kinds of treatment. The probiotics my doctor recommended seemed to have helped a bit, but I was still in so much pain, I was trying not to cry in frustration and discomfort in the bathroom at work. I longed for the last time I felt well and started to wonder when that even was. I counted back and made a surprising realization: the last time I felt better was the last time I took my Nuvaring out to have a period. I’d skipped the one before that, after being told by my gynecologist that this was okay, but Jake had disapproved. It didn’t sound healthy to him for me to be stacking my birth control without a break. Since my fertility directly effects him, I complied and took it out… and by the end of the week, the pain was mostly gone. My prayers had been answered, but only briefly, because it quickly returned. At this point, however, I’d just stopped complaining and was suffering in silence.
For one final bout of research, I Googled “Nuvaring and UTI”… only to find numerous mentions of women who’d experienced both UTI’s and general urinary problems without diagnosis of an infection. Over and over again, I read stories on medical forums of women being in such pain that they couldn’t function or having multiple UTI’s in just a few months, only to find that discontinuing their usage of Nuvaring almost immediately relieved the symptoms. I was torn. If I’d had these problems and there was even a chance they could be related to my birth control, surely my doctor would tell me. I’d just wait until my current Nuvaring was finished and then try something else.
That night, as I lay in bed crying, knowing my symptoms would keep me up all night, again, I texted Jake to inform him that we’d be using condoms for awhile. I was sorry I hadn’t discussed it with him beforehand, but I couldn’t do it anymore and was willing to try taking out my Nuvraing on the hopes that my symptoms would clear up. I’d have taken an unplanned pregnancy over the pain, at that point. After sending that text, I trashed my $140 value birth control, that I’d only had in for two weeks. The next day, I called my gynecologist, requesting a different prescription. When I told the nurses my symptoms, however, they scoffed at the idea that my Nuvaring could be the culprit. The most I was able to get anyone to admit, was that women had complained of increased discharge and there was a possibility that that might cause an infection. When I picked up the new birth control, I got a more reasonable response from the pharmacist, with a bit less eye rolling. She said she hadn’t heard of these symptoms, but it made perfect sense to her.
It has been one week since I tearfully trashed my Nuvaring and I thank God numerous times a day that the pain is gone. I finally feel well, for the first time in over a month. I can go hours without having to pee, only getting up once or twice in the night. I no longer experience any pain. The only time I’ve had any such persistent symptoms in the last several days was when I tried to use my menstrual cup, because taking out my ring started my period. I am not a doctor. I cannot substantiate my claims that there is a connection between my urinary problems and my use of Nuvaring. I cannot say that this is even common enough that Nuvaring should say so, when it might be a dream contraceptive for other women. What I can say is that Nuvaring and the menstrual cup are both held in by pressing against the walls of the vagina and both caused me pain. I can tell you that I have had three substantiated UTI’s since March. I can tell you that I have never had any problems, such as these, until one month after starting Nuvaring. I can tell you that my doctors, the people I am supposed to trust with my health, never even suggested that the new prescription I was on might be the cause of the sudden problems I was experiencing, in a related area. When I suggested this, I was gaslighted and treated as another obnoxious Web-MD reader. What I can tell you is that I will forever take my doctors’ opinions with a grain of salt, after this miserable experience. What I can tell you is that the pain is gone and I will no longer be using my vagina as a pocket for my birth control.
This post is six and a half years old and it still gets regular traffic, so I’m providing an update.
After a few months of on-again/off-again bladder problems, I saw a female urologist who validated all of my concerns. She performed an ultrasound to confirm no other issues and told me that it absolutely made sense that any birth control would cause bladder problems, because the bladder is extremely sensitive to hormones. It also made sense to her that a menstrual cup would aggravate an already sensitive urethra.
I was given free samples of the medication Myrbetriq, which is usually promescribed only to the elderly, and instructed to take them as needed. I had a Mirena IUD implanted a few weeks later and never had a single issue in the two years I was on it.
I’m now married with three children and rarely have any need of the Myrbetriq samples, despite having been pregnant twice.
I had to stop using my menstrual cup due to pain years ago. So unfortunate. I have a difficult time trusting anything doctors say. They are taught to throw meds or cut into every health problem instead of looking at the whole person or doing any research. It’s all about money and not what is best for an individual.
My menstrual cup typically causes a weaker, but similar pain. It doesn’t get bad, though, because I only use it for two, maybe three days. I felt exactly the same way you do about doctors after this. In hindsight it seems so obvious to at least CONSIDER the new birth control device, before writing me off.
My mother was an ICU nurse for over 40 years. One thing I learned from her: don’t trust the doctors.
I’m so sorry your doctor was so incredibly unhelpful 😦 Mine just told me that NuvaRing can contribute to recurring bacterial and vaginal infections because “bacteria loooove estrogen.” There are doctors out there that are competent, I hope you find a great one for sure ❤ I’m glad you were able to figure it out! Hopefully ditching the NuvaRing helps me too.
I ended up getting a Mirena, which I’ve had for a year and a half now, and it’s soooo much better. We don’t even have to think about it and I’ve had no complications.
Thank you so much for this!!! Your story is almost the same as mine except ive had insurance to afford my bc, but in every other way. I’ve struggled and felt crazy, went to dr.s and nothing. Thank you for sharing. 🙂 now i can pee with no pain.
I’m sorry you went through that, but glad my story helped! It was so unbelievably frustrating and I’m still on sample medication periodically, two years later. Its horrifying to think doctors won’t tell you that stuff.
I have been on the NuvaRing for 10 years and had MANY UTIS while using it.. I am not sure if this was a coincidence because they say once you have 1 UTI, you are more susceptible. Unfortunately after curing 1 UTI of E-coli 3 weeks ago, the pain still lingered and got so bad one morning I justthought another UTI was coming back. Unfortunately, the culture came back negative and I am still having symptoms of urgency and frequency of urination. I have random pain as well. Uro-Gyno says all signs are pointing to Interstitial cystitis ( IC) and having a very difficult time excepting this as I know some people with this will basically lose their lives to it. Please feel free to contact me if you are in the same boat…. email@example.com
I had many similar symptoms and when I got rid of my Nuvaring, they gradually faded. It’s been 2 years since I wrote this and I’m almost symptom free. I do still occasionally take Myrebetriq, which eases the frequent urination paint. I’d recommend at least TRYING life with condoms. I eventually got an IUD and have no issues with it.
I am feeling somewhat better and haven’t had pain urinating for the past two weeks. Did you have urgency and the sensation to keep peeing even after you already peed ? If so, how long did that continue after the nuva ring ? Any details would be greatly appreciated ! Thank you again & so glad you are feeling better !
I actually ended up seeing a urologist for my troubles and still occasionally take Myrebetriq samples she gives me. The problems were much better after I got on that.
I have not had a UTI since this post.
Hello, incase anyone has read my post above I just wanted to follow up several years later. I still do not use the nuvaring and after doing pelvic floor therapy and accupuncture my pain issues were resolved. Please all take care of yourselves and give a try removing the ring to see if it is the culprit.
Hello! I’m struggling bad right night. I’m so sad and want to cry every night. I don’t know what wrong with me. I was on the Nuvaring and started getting uti symptoms. I found this post in May and immediately took it off. Symptoms went away! I was so happy. Now it’s August and my symptoms are back. It been a few weeks now that I’m feeling this way.. uti symptoms. I’m scared that maybe I have pgad or a nerve issue. I see my urologist again soon. She mentioned Interstitial Cystitis may be the cause. I would be soooo divested if that’s the case. Could this just the aftermath of the nuvaring?? Please I’ll take any information.. I’m feeling hopeless.
I still struggle some and my urologist gives me Myrebetriq samples. You might ask for that.
Iv been on nuva ring 12 years.
I started having issues October 2018 which now I believe to be from nuvaring. UTI like symptoms which have all been negative until June 2019. I removed nuvaring immediately and still have these recurring symptoms and I believe nuvaring is the culprit. I wish this pain go away because it’s making go insane thinking it’s all in my head.
I would suggest you visit a urologist. That’s the only person who validated my pain. She also gave me free samples of a bladder pain medication, which I still sometimes take, nearly four years later. You’re not imagining it. I had good luck with Mirena, myself, but I’ll never take another hormonal form of birth control.
Thank you for the advice and response. I ended up seeing a dozen doctors and found relief with internal pelvic floor therapy. I am with you in that I will NEVER go back on birth control and wish we could be educated more about the potential side effects rather than doctors handing it out like candy. Hope you are living pain free days – best regards
I went to a urologist last week, she called me today and told me I was indeed right. I have a UTI and the antibiotics I was previously given by my PCP have a immunity to the type of UTI I have.
I’m so relieved to know that It’s a UTI and nothing major. I think I’m
Going to switch to a ultra-low dose BC called Lo Loestrin Fe. I don’t think I can handle having Mirena inserted.
I just want to say thank you so much for this. YOUR blog was one of the answers I found when I finally Googled “NuvaRing and UTI” after a month of trying EVERYTHING – including antibiotics – to get rid of the pain and urgency I’ve been experiencing. Same deal with the doctors – UTI test, antibiotics, lifestyle recommendations (yes, I’ve quit COFFEE over this), and now, STI testing. I’ve had the intuition over and over to pull the damn thing out. Thank you for giving your account of this, it’s exactly what I’ve been dealing with as well. I’ll be getting rid of mine as well.
I’m so glad this old post helped. I’ve gotten a few similar comments on it, over the years. I still see a urologist and occasionally take the Myrbetriq samples she gives me, usually just for a week at a time, a few times a year. I don’t have near as much trouble, four years later. The urologist was very clear that the bladder is extremely sensitive to hormones and it was absolutely possible that birth control was the culprit. I eventually got an IUD and had no more trouble, but I’ll never be on Nuvaring or The Pill again.
I’m so thankful I found your article. I have been having this same problem for 5 months I would get a UTI every two weeks for 5 months and then for 4 months after that it burned like a UTI every time I peed after sex for at least an hour, my doctor just said that I should just drink more water and I need to make sure I pee after sex and I’m like yeah trust me I know all about that. So eventually I stopped using my birth control because my body was actually rejecting it, the nuvaring was making me so sick and was causing abdominal pain and either diarrhea or constipation. But once I took it out everything was fine. Sex was painful while on the nuvaring and I had little to no sex life with my husband, which is awful since we only just got married October 2019. Thank you so much.
It’s shocking that I still get these messages after four years and this hasn’t become more commonly suggested! I’m so sorry you had to go through that, but I’m glad it’s better.
She didn’t say it was an infection, but that the bladder is very sensitive to hormones. That’s not zebras.
Also, many people have clearly had this experience, based on the comments I still get. That was a horrible painful year and you don’t get to call me fucking ignorant on my own blog, so once you’ve had the chance to read this, I’ll be deleting all of it, due to YOUR ignorance.
Reading this was like reading my own experience played back to me. Thank you for posting this.
Thank you for posting this. I, like others who have commented, suspected that my UTI like symptoms may have been caused by my contraceptive ring but could find nothing to back this theory up online. I am finishing a second, longer course of antibiotics and am still noticing the same tenderness in my bladder. I had an ultrasound scan today which was clear so now have to do an STI test which I’m sure will also be clear. I think taking out the ring might have to be the next step. I’ve otherwise found it to be great but can’t deal with the constant trips to the bathroom any more. I hope doctors will start to listen to women more when it comes to matters like this. We know our bodies better than anyone.
I eventually got an IUD and had much better luck with it, but I get so many comments on this six-years-old post that I think this must just be a much more common problem than doctors or the drug companies are willing to acknowledge. It took me approximately five years to fully recover from the bladder issues I developed. I hope things settle down more quickly for you.
Thank you, glad to hear yours did eventually improve!
I am glad to find your post! While I did not get a UTI while on the NuvaRing or Eliryng, I did start waking up in the middle of the night to pee more than once, sometimes three times. I asked my doctor and he told me to stop drinking liquids after 4 or 5pm. I tried that for a while and it helped. However, I recently decided to stop hormonal birth control as I’ve been on it nonstop for almost 20 years. Since then I haven’t had to wake up in the middle of the night to pee as often, only when I do drink a lot before bed and then it’s only once. I am convinced it was related.
I have so many comments reporting similar stories that, even six years later, I fully agree.
My daughter is 21, she too has 5-6 UTI’s a year and now also kidney stones. She was absolutely fine before nuva ring. Doctors can’t explain it. She’s had a Mirena Coil fitted, hope this stops all the pain for her!
I had a Mirena for a few years with no trouble. The fact that I still get so many comments on this 7 years old story is disturbing. This needs to be a listed side effect, so women know to be aware.
I have been having these same issues. I am currently on Eluryng. I just finished my second round of antibiotics for a UTI. I am also experiencing a burning sensation after intercourse. I have had UTIs previous and made life changed and hasn’t experienced any in years until I started this birth control.
I’ve had so many comments on this post in the last six and a half years, from frustrated women desperate for answers, that I’m convinced that this should be a listed side effect. I’m also convinced that doctors just aren’t allowed to tell their patients it might be an issue. I had success with a Mirena IUD and would use one again when I’m done having children. I’ll never be on Nuvaring or the pill again.